He is one of a number of solid shouts for players that look old before their time. We also have the final words on lovely D-Beck and a rejection of end of season playoffs...
That's one opinion, but others give their thanks to the man. We also have ideas for a relegation playoff, happy memories of the season and a defence of Liverpool's campaign...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
I can't believe no one has mentioned the way Alex Ferguson threw his gum away after the Swansea match yesterday - he did so with such force that he's lucky nobody got in the way of it; they could have been killed. It's the most dangerous thing I've seen at a football match in some time.
Matt H, Battersea Arsenal
When I Did An RVP...
I watched that game Swansea vs Man United, and yes I witnessed that outrageous moment involving Van Persie and Williams.
I know it was really really painful. Getting kicked by a ball to your head is always unpleasant and painful. I experienced that once, when I was in football training with my college team. My teammate accidentally cleared the ball really hard and whacked my head, I felt really dizzy and went bats**t crazy towards him (RVP-ish reaction from yesterday's game).
But the difference was when I went mental to my team-mate (who already said sorry), all my other teammates told me to f*ck off because it was purely accidental. My coach reprimanded me not to over-react again.
Well, that's all from me.
Fergie On A Wind-Up?
Alex Ferguson once saw one of his players kung-fu kick a spectator in the chest.
Alex Ferguson once saw his captain intentionally injure a fellow professional, then gloat about it in a book.
Alex Ferguson has managed in the league for long enough to see his players racially abused, see Eduardo nearly have his foot come off his leg, see his goalkeeper crying due to a player getting his leg crushed, seen Tottenham denied a clear goal by incompetent linesmen and seen a player nearly die on the pitch.
Yet apparently Ashley Williams shanking a clearance is the worst thing he's ever seen on the football pitch.
Is Ferguson becoming a parody of himself now? There really is no defending this, is there? Or is this all just a distraction for his lacklustre draw?
Defending Fergie's Reaction
In fairness it was a pretty solid whack to the back of the head, he didn't see it coming and as the whistle had long gone (in the context of it all), Ashley Williams had no pressing need to make that clearance. Any one of us would have got up screaming, well, murder! Sadly the moment Fergie said the words 'could have killed' him I knew you guys would over look the incident to bait the readers into polarised reactions. So here's the level-headed reaction:
He could have knocked him out, he could have broken his neck, he could have hurt him badly.
So while the real time and slo-mo replays show Williams had plenty of time to pull out of kicking the ball, I think it's fair that Fergie should ask for someone to take a look at it.
I wouldn't think Williams is ordinarily that kind of player but it does look like the emotion of the moment got the better of him so it was a bit of a di*khead thing to do. Happy Christmas.
Jonny Evans: Lucky Bugger
Is Jonny Evans the luckiest player in the PL? I'm referring to him running into Michu and manufacturing a foul out of nothing in the first half when de Guzman was clear on goal. Michu was in no way trying to block off Evans, he turned to make a run and Evans ran straight into him.
Other 'lucky' instances include clear foul on Torres, but Torres gets booked for diving and Evans avoids yellow. Similarly, the 'karate kick' on Drogba, Evans wins foul and avoids clear red card.
Does anyone get away with more potential game-changing decisions on the pitch?
Sami Magoon (In 20 years, Ferguson saw Ashley Williams trying to clear the ball and inadvertently hitting Van Persie in the head as the most dangerous thing to happen on the football pitch - as opposed to Keane and Scholes decapitating footballers left, right, centre with their tackling)
Evra Is The Weakest Link
The weakest link in the United team is not the absence of a quality central midfielder - It is PATRICE EVRA. The goal against Swansea was his mistake. The goal against City was his mistake. Before that he waved of Balotelli for a free shot in the box in the first half. Mind you, this list would run into a thousand lines.
Always out of position, there is a greater chance that you find Evra in the centre of the park than defending the left wing. His case is exactly like that of Torres. Both were great, now, both are crap. The only reason why Torres gets noticed is because he is a striker and there are three other defenders and a goalkeeper to work around Evra's ineptness.
Please pink-nosed-gum-chewing-behemoth, don't cook up stories about banning Ashley Williams killing RvP after kicking a ball to his head. You kicked a boot at Beckham's face. Now, THAT is life-threatening. Vent out our anger now on that cocky crappy excuse for a left back
Bala (Evra vs. Ronaldo|DiMaria|Ozil :( :( :( ) MUFC
Will The Real Manchester United Please Stand Up? Oh You Are...Well...This Is Awkward
Manchester United sit top of the Premier League by four points. The last time a team was that far ahead at Christmas and failed to win the league was Manchester United in 1997-1998. Statistics can be used to prove anything, you know.
It's been said in many corners that there is a distinct lack of quality in this Manchester United team. Individually, there is no question of their qualities. For some reason, though, Sir Alex is struggling to turn these individuals into a team that, at the very least, is the sum of its parts. Michael Laudrup, on the the other hand, has done a very respectable job of just that at Swansea, even if the results haven't always gone their way. They are in the bottom half of the table, after all.
Wayne Rooney seems to be at the heart of the Manchester United problem. When they play a 4-4-2 with Rooney and Robin van Persie spearheading the attack it is imperative that Rooney drops deep and creates a mobile 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1. When he doesn't, the United midfield tend to get a bit over-run. Every time Swansea broke from the centre it was painfully obvious that they were short on numbers.
When Swansea did break, though, they did find a fairly resolute United defence. Well, resolute for the majority of the match. All four defenders decided to do their best Michael Jackson statue impersonation to allow Jonathan de Guzman in, forcing a good save from David de Gea. Nemanja Vidic looked so off the pace he made John Terry look like Usain Bolt.
Despite all this, Manchester United do indeed find themselves top of the table half-way through the season. Pundits, websites, fans, bloggers, etc. have been saying that they won't be able to spend the whole season playing in this manner if they want to win the league Could it be that United are simply aiming to do the bare minimum? They've made it this far and are still leading the pack. They struggled against a very good Swansea team, despite their league position, and still came away from Wales with a point.
Swansea on the other hand will hopefully be buoyed by a very strong performance. With the congestion in the middle of the table, though, they will need to turn draws into wins or else they'll find themselves fighting for their Premiership status.
Sir Alex is promising a very quiet January Manchester United, though will need to ensure that their performances on the pitch don't mirror their manager's transfer dealings. It seems that even if the obvious midfield reinforcements became available, Victor Wanyama or Kevin Strootman come to mind, that the Manchester United manager will continue to persist with the toothless 4-4-2. Roberto Mancini must be hoping his own chairman isn't as stringent as he was in the summer.
Fergie Is Only About Trophies, Wenger Is About Football
I had to reply to John Daniels' mail 'Why Fergie is great and Wenger will never be'. The conclusion he has drawn there is one of the reasons 'Why Spain and Barcelona are great and England will never be'.
Because in England, football is accounting. Scoring goals is accounting - doesn't matter how they're scored. And the worst part is, not only managers but even fans are accountants - all they want is to count trophies like a sad accountant in his dingy room counts currency, and cannot think beyond it.
Till Wenger came along in '96, the crap dished out by Fergie's teams was the standard for decent football in England. Wenger came along and changed that with players who could play his vision of football. A vision of football in which just putting in balls into good areas in the box was not good enough. The ball had to be respected and the ball had to be passed to a player, not just 'put in good areas'. When a pass is made, the player receiving it should ease into it and the game should seem fluid - the ball should not take three bounces when it is passed and the receiving player should not have to turn back.
Fergie's best teams, for all their money spent, have relied on football from the pre-historic era. He has always had money to spend, so the quality of the players brought in and quality of their finishes have at times masked the utter crudeness of the football played. A great Rooney scissor-kick masks the fact that the pass made was a poor cross (and a cross, not a pass), one of the many. Similarly, Fergie's trophies are masking his failures.
A great manager is the one who wins trophies yes, but whose teams also play great football. Fergie may have beaten everyone black and blue on the first part, but he has never managed the second. With Wenger, well at least there was a time when he managed both (I won't go into how many millions Fergie has spent more than Wenger and the reasons for Wenger's current woes - he has been hamstrung financially). Hell, forget Wenger, and look at the quality of football Manchester City are playing. An Italian is getting his team to play so much better, in a much more refined way than the Scot has ever managed in his long tenure. And that is why Fergie is almost great, not great.
There is a long list of managers who have built their teams' games around Wenger's philosophy - just hear the words of Guardiola on Wenger (not to mention the coaching badges he did at Arsenal). There is a reason why Jugen Klopp and Guardiola are mentioned as natural heirs to Wenger where Jose Mourinho is mentioned as the natural successor to Fergie. That says it all doesn't it?
It's because Fergie is only and only about trophies, but Wenger is about football.
Lovely To Watch Torres
Can I just say - it is so heartening to watch Torres scoring and celebrating with real enthusiasm once again? He may not be his old self and he may never hit those heights. But even as a non Chelsea/Liverpool fan, it just feels right to watch him score sublime goals and his header yesterday was brilliant. A reminder that he still possesses one of the best finishes in the Premier League.
Aston Villa > Liverpool
Does this mean Chelsea would beat Liverpool 11-0??
Neil (trying to pick some positives out of THAT result), AVFC, Dublin
The Anatomy Of An English Transfer Flop
The consensus seems to be that Daniel Sturridge's £12m transfer to Liverpool represents a shrewd bit of business for Brendan Rodgers.
It's not unlike the other 'JANUARY SALES' you'll be reading about, plastered on billboards up and down the country about a fortnight from now. The 'promising' striker wouldn't look out of place a 'REDUCED - 50% OFF' sticker on his forehead after several years without serious transfer interest from other viable clubs - but is a £100 shirt really a bargain when it goes on sale for £50, if you know you really wouldn't pay more than £25 elsewhere?
This is a list courtesy of the excellent TransferLeague, showing in recent years what 'value' you can get when you pay £8m or more for an English footballer. It's an exclusive list, every English player, over £8m since Summer 2010.
Jack Rodwell £15m; Adam Johnson £10m; Matt Jarvis £10.7m; Scott Sinclair £8m; Stewart Downing £20m; Peter Crouch £10m; Jordan Henderson £16m; Phil Jones £17m; Connor Wickham £8m; Ashley Young £17m; Andy Carroll £35m; Darren Bent £18m; James Milner £26m
There are some modestly talented players on that list - I haven't cherry picked it, that's everyone over £8m according to the website. But if you were building a team for the future would you pay £210m for that basket of average-ness, and lord knows how much more in agent fees and wages? That's a fundamentally overpriced collection of transfers - and I think Sturridge would be right at home on that list.
I know foreign players can be just as overpriced, and it isn't lost on me that Liverpool reportedly spent £12m on Fabio Borini in the summer. But as the list above shows, getting value out of the English market isn't just tough, sometimes it's practically impossible. So where does most of the £12m come from in Daniel Sturridge?
1) He's 23, and as everyone knows, you pay more for players who you have to nurture and develop for five years before they hit their prime and request a transfer.
2) He's English, which naturally enhances his wages and price, although not his goalscoring record (why would you care about that?).
3) He 'plays' for Chelsea, and 'played' for Man City, and of course being surplus to requirements at two rival clubs is the hallmark of a crucial acquisition, and is what made Joe Cole such a successful transfer.
4) He has well-documented attitude problems, and has already shown a lack of respect to his prospective club by demanding where and when to be played - this kind of forthrightness is precisely what we've been missing since Ryan Babel sulked his way out of Anfield.
5) He scored eight goals for Bolton about two years ago, who as long-ball merchants at the time, serve as the perfect template for the short passing system now employed at Liverpool.
For all we know Daniel Sturridge could turn out to be a fine player for Liverpool, and is certainly less pricey at £12m than during the summer. But with time ticking and Liverpool's finite resources, Brendan Rodgers is tasked with moving the club forward - a huge part of which will need to involve wise, prudent transfer acquisitions. Is Rodgers really getting value for money in this deal? Will Liverpool fans look back at the £24m spent on Fabio Borini and Daniel Sturridge this time next year and ask, 'Where is the proven goalscorer we needed?' A monkey with a pin and a copy of the Daily Mirror could've identified Daniel Sturridge as a transfer target - if he joins the list of disappointments at Anfield, the next £12m might be better spent demolishing the Liverpool scouting department.
Mark A. Rogers
Feeling Good About Liverpool
Liverpool made me happy this weekend. It was good to see a few different names on the scoresheet and a somewhat clinical performance. Stewart Downing confused the hell out of me with his good performance. When I realised a no-look, reverse pass had been executed to perfection I insisted it was Suso as my mind simply couldn't fathom the possibility of Stewart Downing doing something which might aid a Liverpool victory. I was delighted to see how wrong I was. It will be interesting to see if Brendan uses his tactical wizardry and switches things up to deal with Stoke's 'different' approach to the game next. King Kenny deployed three centre-backs against them to good effect a couple seasons ago but it's not something I think we have tried against them since.
Off topic but if we were to extrapolate the points totals at this half way stage to the end of the season it means fourth place will only need 60 points. That would have been good for seventh place last season! It's been incredible that the teams contending for fourth all keep managing to shoot themselves in the foot. The end of this season would be incredibly tense of there were still three or four teams there or thereabouts fighting for fourth. I would be delighted if Liverpool were even within spitting distance of that position since I can't remember what it feels like when your season isn't already over come January.
Still Not Feeling Great About Arsenal
I wrote in a few weeks ago outlining how if Arsene did not turn things around on the pitch quickly, we would find ourselves in a position where relatively speaking, we would be in crisis (at no point did I say we were in crisis, merely heading towards one). As I described then, this crisis would come about if results on the pitch did not improve. Indeed, the off-field uncertainties such as player departures, contracts and board disputes are far less prominent if the team are winning. Furthermore, the ever increasing tension between manager and fans would be eased as you can't really argue with a winning side. Only in the past week or so has some of this tension been lifted.
To deal with Matt's mail first, I see your point and you're right to an extent. How can a club be in, or even be heading towards crisis ever be third in the league? However, us being in the top four at the moment actually means very little. We are ahead of a number of clubs by the virtue of goal difference and Chelsea are now above us having played just one of their two games in hand. We were by no means running away with third, or now, fourth position like you're implying. Of course I am satisfied that we are in the top four and but I am discouraged by the manner we have got there. Very little of this season has suggested to me that our place in the top four will be comfortably sustained and I think you know that to. So to say that because we are third means we're doing well is a bit of a lie. The deficiencies of the side are being masked by this false position. We as a club and fans should be striving for so much more than this. We haven't settle for this before and shouldn't now.
Onto Eoin, again you're right to a certain extent. However, I think you're missing some key points. You seem to take the three to fou- game period of not winning as though it is an isolated incident. You're are ignoring the context of the previous seven years in which we have continually failed on the pitch to deliver silverware. These lack of wins haven't come off the back of a period of sustained success for the club but quite the opposite. There has been too much regression and not enough progression over the past few years. The high standards set by Wenger have dissipated since 2005 and the ire of the fans comes from that the club doesn't even seem to be heading into any positive direction anymore. It feels as though the failures of the side are not rectified during the summer months and we seem to find ourselves in the same position at the end of every season now. So for me, to say that fans are being over the top after just four games doesn't tell the whole story. Whether you feel the fans are being over the top or not isn't my issue, but it's the reason for the reaction, which in my opinion, doesn't boil to four games. It's the soaring costs to support and follow Arsenal, it's the selling of key players, it's the failure to replace these players, it's being told Robin van Persie was sold for footballing reasons, it's the gradual demise of our once envied playing style, it's an ever growing distance between the fans and the owners of the club and it's being told that being third and fourth best is an achievement.
Saying this, I still trust Arsene and he has my support. I think he can still turn it around but his performance in getting the best out of the players must improve.
Ten Reasons Why I Hate Stoke
I've taken inspiration from that nauseating email about Drogba and come up with ten reasons why I despise Stoke City FC.
1) The constant long balls that require virtually no skill whatsoever. They make a maximum of fives hort passes before the inevitable lump forward. I genuinely don't understand how the Stoke fans can watch this week in, week out.
2) Robert Huth being given MOM in several places in spite of his 33% passing accuracy.
3) The constant tactical fouling and cheating. Not just in the penalty area, but all over the pitch. Again, horrible to watch and obviously a specific tactic employed by their manager.
4) Tony Pulis' pikey tracksuit.
5) Tony Pulis complaining that Stoke get treated differently from other teams. How dare they punish a team which deliberately breaks the rules more often than teams who don't deliberately break the rules? Stoke don't get punished enough, let alone too often.
6) Tony Pulis kicking up a massive fuss about players going down too easily and ignoring the continuous crimes against football his team employs.
7) Tony Pulis making a legitimate complaint about Fellaini's ridiculously short ban and then ruining it with the above assertion, and thus ensuring no one sane wanted the ban lengthened.
8) Tony Pulis.
9) The fact that, in terms of skill level, at least eight of their players on Saturday would struggle to get in a semi-decent Championship team. They've made Andy Wilkinson a Premier League footballer ffs!
10) Their signing of Cameron Jerome, the poor man's Emile Heskey. A further illustration of how little value is placed on technique.
11) Their fans actually seeming to enjoy the fact that the only thing their team is good at is being stronger and cheating more than the opposition. See the rendition of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot'. I can appreciate enjoying having a physical advantage but when there is no attempt whatsoever to actually play decent football, I'd be quite embarrassed myself.
12) The fact that the referees are incapable of noticing their sneaky underhand tactics and actually doing anything about them.
13) The signing of Tuncay Sanli, who was a very good player for Boro, and then proceeding to give him approximately three minutes of playing time due to him actually being quite a good footballer.
14) Tony Pulis.
More than ten, but this was remarkably easy. It will obviously be suggested that I am bitter because we failed to win at home against such a technically inferior side, which to an extent is true, but I wouldn't consider my attitude 'holier than thou' as I am comparing Stoke with every other team in the divison, and not us in particular). But this doesn't make any of the above statements any less valid, and I would still have written this if we'd won (although probably been far more smug about it). If you deprived them of the advantage they gain by the cynical cheating, I highly doubt their vaunted defensive record would be anywhere near what it is. Hopefully one day the FA will grow a pair, and Stoke will be relegated to the lower leagues and never again sour our division with their presence.
Happy Christmas everyone.
Alex G, THFC